Van Gogh Museum
Transforming a museum into a digital experience accessible to all
With consumer behaviour becoming increasingly digital, the Van Gogh Museum understood that it needed to elevate its digital presence and ensure it was accessible to everyone. So they asked Dept to turn their existing website into a work of art. The result? A new website that adheres to the highest accessibility standards and allows important information to stand out, much like colours on a blank canvas.
designing a new website worthy of Van Gogh’s art
A long-standing partnership
The iconic Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, dedicated to displaying the works of Vincent van Gogh, is one of the most important museums in the Netherlands. With over 200 paintings, 400 drawings, and 700 letters by the artist, it’s the largest Van Gogh collection in the world. To meet the demands of the digital world, the museum has partnered with Dept for the last two years. Together, we have created a new visual identity for the museum and developed the Unravel Van Gogh mobile app. But it was time to take it up a notch and design a new website worthy of Van Gogh’s art.
A website that reflects the uniqueness of the Van Gogh Museum
When you think of Van Gogh, colourful sceneries come to mind. So this was our starting point. We wanted the website to resonate with the user and leave an impression while, at the same time, being modest and simple in appearance. To kick off our design process, we started with an analysis which would enable us to make concrete recommendations for the museum’s future website. We researched the user journey and delved into any challenges they may face while browsing the current website, paying special attention to any difficulties those with a disability may encounter.
The technique behind the brushstrokes
To ensure the content stands out and that the design complements but doesn’t compete with the paintings featured on the site, we kept the design clean and minimalist, giving it a timeless feel. We embraced the museum’s new identity, which was designed by Studio Dumbar (part of Dept) in 2018, by using similar colours and typography. We assigned each page to a different colour which was adapted to the work of art displayed on it, a feat rarely done among the white backgrounds of various museum websites. We also implemented subtle interaction animations and transitions to make the website feel light and engage the user.
The new layout not only matched the museum’s existing communication design which enables flexibility and consistency across all devices. It is also compliant with and optimised for WCAG 2.1 AA. These elements combined help bring the museum to life, engage the viewer and convey the physical museum experience in a digital manner for everyone and everywhere.
Elevating the storytelling experience
The museum website not only aims to inspire and entice visitors but also educate and delight them. However, the old story format didn’t promote users to read the content in its entirety. So we updated the website’s story format by simplifying the layout while making it more snappy and interactive as the user scrolls down. This made the articles more appealing to read, especially for users coming from social channels. It also enabled editors to create and post content in a much quicker fashion.
Revealing the details of Van Gogh’s paintings digitally
All of the works of art and drawings included on the website are in HD which reveals what you cannot see with the naked eye: the great details of Van Gogh’s paintings. It allows the user to discover the information concealed in and underneath the paint simply by zooming in on the site. This interactive storytelling feature is enabled by embedding Micrio into the platform, a unique feature developed by the strategic digital agency Q42.
Bringing art to life in a digital realm
The museum’s new website embarks on a voyage of discovery and inspiration, helping guide art lovers to the world of Vincent van Gogh. In less than six months, we relaunched the museum’s site and made it more colourful and highly-accessible, in addition to drastically increasing the site speed and loading times. Users all around the world can now be inspired by how Van Gogh influenced art’s history and connect with the museum from thousands of miles away.